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An emotional reunion at Stepping Stone Hospice

Irineia was a patient in the hospice’s In-Patient Unit in January 2017 when she went into premature labour at the Unit. An ambulance was summoned and after an emergency caesarean and a few days spent in the Netcare Clinton Hospital ICU, both mom and baby were released back into the care of the nurses and carers at Stepping Stone Hospice.

Little Tersia Pereira was named after Stepping Stone’s very own ‘mom’ and CEO Tersia Burger. Irineia based her decision at the time on the fact that Tersia was at the hospital when she gave birth and had been a constant pillar of support for her at the IPU. It was also the first time in the hospice’s history that a care and nursing team turned a patient’s room into a fully-functional nursery complete with cot next to her bed so Irineia could spend as much precious time with her little one as possible.

Irineia, then 27-years old and originally from central Angola where she worked as a clerk at the magistrate court in Lobito, was admitted to Stepping Stone’s IPU shortly before Christmas 2016 after a referral from Dr Sylvia Rodrigues, well-known Alberton oncologist and active member of the Stepping Stone care team.

Already a mother to a daughter (4) and son (2), she came to South Africa in the hopes of finding a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan after becoming very ill in September 2015 and being initially misdiagnosed back home.

“Looking at Irineia today, I can only express my absolute gratitude for the miracle of recovery from cancer,” an emotional Tersia said on Tuesday. “When Irineia expressed a wish at the end of January 2017 that she wanted to return to her family, her husband and two other children in Angola, we thought that we are sending her home to die. And yet, here she is, returning for her annual check-ups with Dr Rodrigues, looking great and displaying an attitude of optimism and a zest for life,” Tersia says.

Family friend and translator, Carlos, visited with Irineia on Tuesday and helped with relaying her thoughts as Irineia speaks Portuguese and has limited understanding of English. Through translation she told the staff that little Tersia is doing well, that she is attending a day care centre in Lobito and loves her traditional South African food, “pap and chicken is her favourite. And if anyone asks, she makes sure to tell them that she is indeed a South African and not an Angolan as she was born in South Africa and has a SA identity document.”

Irineia will continue with her annual check-ups with Dr Rodrigues and “she will always remain our patient, if she should ever need us again, we will most certainly take care of her. There will always be a room for her,” Tersia says.

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